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'House of the Dragon' Burning Question, Episode 3: Does Anybody Exist Above Tradition and Duty in Westeros?


Sunday nights are for deciphering new clues on House of the Dragon that will surely spark debate—and our utmost curiosity—about Game of Thrones foreshadowing. While House of the Dragon is set 172 years BEFORE Game of Thrones, the connections are endless as it tells us so much about the House of Targaryen’s origin story. 

Each week, we’ll answer all your burning questions on how House of the Dragon andGame of Thrones are connected.

The big question we’re exploring after House of the Dragon, episode 3: 

Why Doesn’t Anybody Exist Above Tradition and Duty in Westeros— Not Even the Rulers of the Realm?

In House of the Dragon, episode three titled “Second of His Name,” Rhaenyra Targaryen is expected to marry and start a family by her father as is custom. Yet, Otto Hightower expects his grandson, Aegon Targaryen, to be named rightful heir to the Iron Throne as King Viserys’ firstborn son. Will Rhaenyra find a suitable spouse? And will Aegon Targaryen end up on the Iron Throne? It leads us to wonder . . .

Why do Traditions and Duties Extend Beyond the Common Folk and All the Way Up to Royalty?

In one of the more striking scenes of episode three, Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) and King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) get into a public, heated argument over the latter’s desire to have his daughter wed Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall) in an attempt to form a political alliance with the Lannisters. Rhaenyra harshly rebukes the advances of the arrogant Lannister, which draws the ire of her father. He reminds her that no one is above tradition and duties, not even them.

Meanwhile, the scheming Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) similarly engages in a conversation with his daughter, now Queen Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) regarding the heir to the Iron Throne. As a (former) friend to Princess Rhaenyra (the currently named heir), Alicent Hightower is hesitant to challenge Rhaenyra’s claim as heir—even though her father angrily states that Aegon will sit on the Throne regardless—it is customary that the firstborn son of the King is named heir. The episode, like the prior two before it, reeks of the Westeros sexism firing on all cylinders.

One issue: the patriarchal mess is becoming tiresome without showing what we know comes next with a large time jump—the impending ‘Dance of Dragons.’ We’ve heard the “women can’t sit on the iron throne” spiel multiple times. But now we need to see what happens when Rhaenyra inevitably claims her right to become Queen.

Was the Hunting of the White Hart Meant to be Emblematic of Destiny and Fate?

A large portion of the hunting sequences are meant to be about the “supposed” good omen of hunting and killing a white hart—a creature of royal and noble significance in Westeros—and one of good fortune for both the reign of King Viserys and the future of baby Aegon Targaryen. However, when it comes time to kill the creature, Viserys has difficulty killing the actual stag as it’s a brown one, not the white one we’ve heard about.

Meanwhile, Rhaenyra has fled from the hunting grounds with her father’s loyal Kingsguard Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) to seek some freedom from all the “politicking,” as Viserys calls it. In the middle of the night a wild boar attacks them both. Ser Criston Cole stabs the boar (non-fatally and then its repeatedly stabbed to death by Rhaenyra in a cathartic, bloody scene that likely represents her bubbling anger over how she’s been treated by the men thus far.

Before Rhaenyra comes back to the camp with the hunted boar, she happens upon the actual White Hart, but opts to let it go rather than killing it. Her arrival in the camp post-hunt with the killed boar speaks to the potential destiny of Rhaenyra as a rightful heir—despite what duties and traditions might dictate.

What Should We Expect from the Impending Battle for the Throne Between the Trio of Targaryens?

He may be only two years old in episode three but make no mistake—Aegon Targaryen will make his play for the Iron Throne. Things became a bit more complicated too, as we know that there’s been a subtle push for Rhaenyra Targaryen to wed a man of pure Valyrian blood—a man that we saw come swooping into the Stepstones to save Daemon Targaryen. That man is Laenor Velaryon (John MacMillan), who showed up just in the nick of time on the back of his own dragon, Seasmoke.

The crucial victory in the war for the Stepstones signifies a much larger political victory for Daemon Targaryen, but the well-timed arrival of Laenor also bodes well for his chances at a political alliance with Rhaenyra through marriage. Aegon Targaryen might have the better claim by being firstborn son right now, but the pure Valyrian blood of a potential offspring of Laenor and Rhaenyra ought to be mighty tough for the Kingdom to pass up.

Where Will “Tradition and Duty” End for Otto Hightower?

An early favorite for biggest House of the Dragon villain is, of course, Otto Hightower. He’s the apt combination of Tywin Lannister and ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish. He possesses most of Tywin’s capabilities of manipulation as the Hand of the King, but all of Littlefinger’s aspirations and potential delusions of grandeur. He set up his own daughter with King Viserys as a means to end, for crying out loud. Alicent Hightower, however, did make the compelling case that they’re sworn to Rhaenyra as the heir back in episode one. Though tradition indicates a desire for Aegon Targaryen to rule, duty states that they remain faithful to the King’s choice of heir as it currently stands.

This will be an interesting situation to monitor throughout the season. Perhaps we will see Otto Hightower face an end similar to Tywin Lannister or Peter Baelish.

How to Watch House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones

You'll never miss a moment when you watch House of the Dragon AND Game of Thrones with Xfinity. Not only can you watch House of the Dragon every Sunday night at 9pm ET, there’s also free Game of Thrones episodes, and content extras like behind the scenes looks, cast interviews, and much more. Not to worry if you’re not a current HBO/Max subscriber as Xfinity has loads of free episodes to watch now on X1, Xumo Stream Box from Xfinity or on the Xfinity Stream app. 

Here’s the rundown: 

  • Free now through 10/31: Enjoy 16 episodes of the Best of Targaryen, a curated collection from the HBO Original series Game of Thrones  

  • Free 9/6 – 9/10: Join the House of the Dragon Free Preview Event and watch the first three episodes free


Catch Up on More House of the Dragon Burning Questions and Fun Facts . . .


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